by Mel Kidby, Casa Molino, Pinos del Valle
How did you discover the Lecrin Valley?
We saw an episode of “A Place in the Sun” on UK TV back in 2003/4 and loved the look of the place being very similar to where we’d lived back in the late 80’s in South Africa. We were getting itchy feet again and looking for a new challenge – Spain appealed to us being just a 3 hour flight back to the UK, so visits to family and friends would be easy compared to our days of living in South Africa.
What made you choose Pinos?
We loved the location being close to the autovia but far enough away to be nice and quiet. Access to Granada, the Alpujarra, Costa Tropical and Sierra Nevada Ski Resort made it an ideal location. The village is split into 2 parts – upper and lower and both have their own church – the one in the lower barrio being the oldest. It has everything you need – 2 pharmacies, 2 shops, tobacconist, post office, bank, doctors, bakers & 2 bars.
What do you do there?
After 9 long hard years of reform work we have now created a spacious and welcoming guesthouse situated in the upper barrio of Pinos del Valle. We offer 3 guest rooms all with ensuite bathroom, a lounge/breakfast room & terrace area for exclusive use of guests.The house is a short stroll from the main church square where you can find the local supermarket/butchers and the local bakery is also close by.
What are the main attractions in Pinos?
Pinos del Valle, or El Pinar as it is locally known, is a working Spanish village which has hardly been touched by tourism and is an ideal base from which to explore the surrounding area. It is just over an hours drive from Malaga airport, 45 minutes from Granada airport, 30 minutes from the beautiful city of Granada which is renowned for its historic Moorish palace – The Alhambra, 20 minutes from the spa town of Lanjaron and 20 minutes from the Costa Tropical and its beaches.
At 700 metres (2,300 feet) above sea level El Pinar has approximately 1125 inhabitants and is split into two parts – barrio bajo which is the lower part of the village and barrio alto which is the upper part.
Set high up above the village is the Ermita de Santo Cristo del Zapato and can be seen from our guest terrace. It is well worth the 40 minute trek up to the Ermita as the views from the top are stunning. Not only that, there are many local tracks that one can explore direct from the village which take you high up into the Pine trees and almond groves. During the spring wild orchids can be spotted along with other local flora.
The area has become increasingly popular with hikers, mountain bikers, road cyclists, & bird watchers wanting to enjoy this beautiful part of the Lecrin valley.
People come from all over the valley for the fresh and cured meats sold by “Carniceria David”, located next to the church in the upper part of the village – chorizo, salchicon, jamon curado etc can be purchased here and if you want some to take home with you they will vac-pack your purchase. This shop is also open on a Sunday morning – the only one in the valley, which means it can get very busy!
The bakery of Juan de Dios is open every day apart from Sundays and has a selection of fresh breads, croissants, napolitanas etc to enjoy and bakes local specialties during fiestas & Christmas. Not only do they supply the village of Pinos with their delicious bakes but also Guajar Farajuit – Juan de Dios loads up his van daily and makes the journey down the old back road (which has recently been resurfaced thankfully and is now as smooth as silk compared to the bone shaker it used to be!).
“Bar Venecia” is worth a visit to enjoy the stunning views from their terrace whilst you enjoy a drink and tapas in the sun. The bar opens from early morning – ideal for breakfast in the morning sunshine on the terrace with beautiful views over to the Alpujarra. The bar is very friendly and not only provides drinks and tapas but also a “Menu del Dia” available Monday – Friday from 1–3pm, and during the evenings a choice of “Raciones” – there is no set menu – just ask what is available on the day.
The “Hostal” is another local bar situated a short walk up from the main road and located near the Guadia Civil building, childrens park & Coviran store. The bar serves tapas with drinks and light snacks.
Are there any village characters or interesting goings-on?
During the August fiesta the Pinos flag bearers put on a rhythmic flag waving display set to waltz music played by the brass band. This tradition dates back 200 years and pays homage to the local saints and the Virgin del Rosario. There is a statue of a Bandero set on the roundabout as you enter the village.
When’s your main fiesta?
Dia de la Cruz. 1,2 & 3 May. This fiesta is in honor of our local saint, Cristo del Zapato. The villagers put on traditional outfits and decorate cars & trailers for the annual Romeria on 1 May. This is followed by free food and drink for all.
Fiestas in honor of San Roque. 15, 16 & 17 August. This is the local fiesta which is celebrated in honor of San Roque, Virgen del Rosario and San Sebastian.
15th August is the day of the Virgen del Rosario and the day commences with a marching band through the streets at around 9am and at mid-day there is a service/mass in the church (Parroquia) in the lower barrio in her honor. This is usually followed by sangria & tapas for everyone afterwards.
16th August is marked by a mass in honor of San Roque in the lower barrio church. This is followed later that evening by a procession and a display by the flag bearers who put on a rhythmic flag waving display set to waltz music played by the brass band. This tradition dates back 200 years and pays homage to the local saints and the Virgin del Rosario. This is watched with pride and admiration by villagers and visitors alike. When the solemn procession reaches the barrio of las Eras there is a spectacular fireworks display to honor the saints and Virgen.
The day of 17 August honors San Sebastian and as per the previous day this starts with a mass in the lower barrio church, followed later that evening by another procession and flag waving display. This procession concludes with each saint being placed in their respective churches and a final heart felt tribute from all the villagers & visitors with the cry of “Viva san Roque, viva san Sebastian and viva la Virgen”.
Favourite time of year and why?
I would definitely choose Spring as my favourite time of year. After the winter rains (hopefully) when the countryside springs into life, the green shoots of new vegetation appear and the wild flowers start to make an appearance. The hillsides and tracks around Pinos are full of wild rosemary, tyme, lavender, fenel and other wild herbs which you can pick to use in your cooking or just enjoy their scent. There are many varieties of wild flowers that appear in the spring and I love looking out for the wild orchids, iris and foxgloves, to name but a few. The days are beginning to warm up and we get to enjoy longer days in the sun.
What do you love about living there?
We love the peacefulness of the village and surrounding area, but also the ease of access to enjoy the culture of Granada, beaches of the Costa Tropical and mountains of the Alpujarra. Pinos is surrounded by beautiful countryside full of oranges, lemons, olives, almonds, walnut trees, wild herbs and beautiful flora in springtime. Not to mention the great variety of birds which pass through this area on their annual migration. We also love the friendly & generous people of Pinos who have welcomed us into their village.
Are there any drawbacks to living there?
One of the main drawbacks of living in Pinos is the limited public transport. Just 2 buses a day to Granada – 7am and 3.45pm. You definitely need a car to get the most out of exploring this wonderful part of Andalucia, but for those who just want to get away from it all for a few days or longer and are not bothered about touring around then you can get by without a car as there are local taxi companies who can take you where you want to go if the bus times don’t fit with your plans. Many come to Pinos to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the village, to unwind from the stresses of daily life and to recharge their batteries. The village has all you need if you don’t want to travel anywhere.
Interesting anecdote that sums up life in your village??
Whilst we were reforming our house we would often have the doors open. As we passed in and out with buckets/barrow loads of bricks, cement etc we would often find one of the locals inside having a good look around to see what we were up to. Many would tell us about the time when they were children and knew the old owners and would come to play with their children or were romantically linked with the family.
The house used to be an old mill many years ago and when we took ownership of the place we decided to donate the old olive press which was located inside to the local town hall for them to put on display in the village. What we didn’t know was that under piles of old rubbish and corn husks at the back of the house there lay a full set of millstones. It was like an episode from Time Team as we slowly uncovered them.
In May 2006 the local mayoress and fellow supporters came to the house to remove the press and stones and these can now be seen on display in the village. The millstones were originally put on display outside the old mill in the lower barrio of Pinos, but they were then moved a couple of years ago to the Mirador as you enter from Beznar (the press next to them isn’t from our house). We feel very proud to be part of the history of the village.
The Olive Press is located as you enter/exit the village on the Restabal road.
Our website: www.casa-molino.com
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/casamolino